Capitol Hill Market is ‘permanently closed’

You mean like forever? (Image: CHS)

In the end, all we can say is that it existed. And it had for some time. And, yes, say hi to Grace. She da bomb! Support ur hood.

The Capitol Hill Market is no more. Permanently closed, to be specific.

CHS went searching for more details on the sudden closure of the 12th Ave market but the paper trail is thin. We found nothing with the City of Seattle for a market of that name or any variant. No corporations in the state match up. All we have are anecdotes of a recent change of ownership — and a downturn for the worse.


The addition of knives for sale was one thing. The new porn selection, another. We’re also told that a few managed to walk out of the store with hard liquor in the wake of 1183. Some, we were also told, didn’t make it very far before crashing to the sidewalk.

Circa 2012 (Image: CHS)

Circa 19932002 (Image: King County)

King County records show the market’s building has been owned by the same family for decades. The current owner is listed as a Hannah Wong. There are no filings with DPD for the property for any kind of work. We’re told the building is for sale.

Its strip of 12th is changing. A project to create a multi-story cohousing building is underway next door. Across the street, this four-story project is moving in. The Capitol Hill Housing 12th Ave Arts project will soon break ground just up the street.

Maybe this is yet another case of a small Capitol Hill business getting squeezed out by rising rents. But it seems just as likely that the market’s business wasn’t that much different than it had been for years. Dingy little bodegas somehow manage to emerge and then hang on. Sometimes it’s knives and porn. Sometimes it’s corn dogs. The Capitol Hill Market is gone. You get the feeling, though, we might be seeing that name again.

26 thoughts on “Capitol Hill Market is ‘permanently closed’

  1. I like that the photo has a date/time stamp of 4-24-2002 2:03pm. It’s just more proof of a time machine being used back in 1993.

  2. …always looked and smelled awful. Hated walking past there. And, no fault of the business owners, the customers had a way of decorating the block with garbage, especially the long-suffering property at the corner just north of there. One of the few cases where a hole in the ground will be more fun. I just hope the property doesn’t sit around as blight for too long.

  3. This is SO sad! I loved this shady market! They’d always give you the wrong change and you’d have to watch closely, otherwise you’d get scammed. The knives and glass selection were always interesting, and the porn was sold in brown paper bags. RIP Cap Hill Market! It’s the end of an era…

  4. Though I live on 12th within blocks of it, I never went in. I guess because I don’t buy cigarettes. It always had weird misspelled signs in the windows, advertising XXL t-shirts, or parking spaces. But I liked having in there. I only wish that like in Vancouver, BC corner markets such as these would sell groceries and produce (cheaper than at grocery stores!).

  5. I knew this place for off-brand kibble and milk in containers not labeled for individual sale – and they only ever had one of each product available at a time. I live close to this, but I didn’t trust things I bought from there. And yes, there was a smell. I can’t quite get sad about this one.

  6. I actually buy my parking from this place (and nothing else). Sketchy indeed, but I was never towed. We’ll see how long that continues…

  7. For a time, before and after 1183, they sold fortified wine packaged like liquor. They had, “Tequesta” “Canadian Wicket” “Vodska”.

  8. Grace was so sweet, the first time I met her she let me know, “We open till 11, everyday no matta what!”

    It was nice to be able to stop in for candy before a night of netflx. They had a great beer selection for a drop in mart, and the glass pipes and porn where sold with a smile. :-)

    Heard her on the phone owning some people in Korean a few times. Don’t mess with Grace, she mess you up!

  9. Yeah, this creepy little place served it’s purpose. Now we’ll all have to find someplace else to buy our big stabby knives and sketchy porn. I always had to check the seal on drinks bought there because half the time they were already opened and a few swigs had been taken by someone else. Ick.

  10. I’m with you, I’ve bought a lot of beer and champagne from this place and once even bought a key chain pot pipe.

    Also did anyone else notice the bag of cat litter by the stairs up to the porn and bongs? It never moved.

  11. Oh believe you me, if I could ever hitch a ride back to 1993 I would punch myself square in face and ask, “What were you thinking?!”

  12. A couple weeks ago I was parked right in front of the store, and it wasn’t open yet. As I walked to my car, I saw two guys in suits posting a notice on the door from the state Department of Revenue. Not sure what specifically that means, but I’d have to guess that it was related to back-taxes or an upcoming audit.

    At the very least, maybe it gives you something to look into…

  13. I was in the store last week to grab a couple beers. I noticed that the selection of beer was looking a little lower than normal. When I went to pay, Grace didn’t have exact change so she gave me a whole buck. She had a lovely smile on her face as she always does. I’ll miss that market. Cap Hill is really changing fast. And it seems like the rate of change is increasing as well. Or maybe I’m just getting older or more aware. Regardless, if it re-opened under another modern store front condo building I would be stoked.

  14. One less sleazy place in our neighborhood. This is a great trend!

    Whatever they sold there can surely be found elsewhere, with a minimal amount of effort.

  15. You know, a smart fella or dame would open up a nice bodega there. The location was not the problem, the general what the fuckery of the place was. Occasionally they’d have things for sale there that were the store brands of big box stores. Who does business like that, besides children?

    Open a good store there and the people will come.

  16. A week or two ago, on one of those sunny hot days we had, I stopped in on my way home to pick up some beer around five or six. All the lights were off inside and it was incredibly hot. I didn’t see anyone inside so I said, “Hello?” and a woman came out from behind the part of the counter to the left of the cash register where they had a tv set up. “Are you open?” I asked. “Yes,” she said, and looked towards the area where the tv is. It felt like someone else was there. I stood and looked at the beer coolers for a moment, but standing there in the dark breathing in that dank, humid air didn’t feel right, so I said thank you and returned to the street where what had previously felt like oppressive heat was refreshing and welcoming. I decided then that I wouldn’t go in there again. Creepy vibe. It was like they just stopped trying in the past year, but then, if there were ever any “glory days” for that place they must have passed a long, long time before this past year.

  17. We used to go to “Graceland” (as we affectionately named it) for beer all the time. Mostly out of laziness. Grace was a big sweetie but she and her co-worker (brother? husband? both?)used to routinely overcharge by a dollar or more, then argue if you pointed out the disparity between the register price and the the price as advertised in the cooler. They also not only used to sell to underage kids, but had also been known, on at least one occasion, to sell booze to underage kids using EBT at DOUBLE the price! So not surprising they tanked somehow. It was either for that shady business or for keeping twenty-five cats illegally in the basement, or walls, or fridge or something. Putrid-esque odor. Sketchy indeed…and hot and smelly. But so convenient.